A Genuinely Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: I finally beat ELDEN RING

I finally– FINALLY managed to put Elden Ring to bed just now, after a completely ridiculous 122 hours of gameplay over roughly a month and a half (the game came out on February 25) of my actual life. I’m not doing the math to figure out how many hours a day that represents; I can tell you I did actually take a couple of days off here and there, but not many.

Here’s the review: this is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I’m probably never touching it again. Now, there are plenty of other games I’ve put more than 120 hours into– there are other Fromsoft games I’ve put more than 122 hours into (Sekiro and Dark Souls III, definitely, and while they aren’t Fromsoft, Nioh and Nioh 2 as well) but those have all been on multiple playthroughs. Even something like Skyrim, which is legendary for the amount of content it contains, wasn’t close to 122 hours on my first playthrough. 122 hours is twice the length of a really big game, and I am one hundred percent certain that there is a ton of stuff left to do in this game that I left on the table– even if it’s just as simple as the fact that I was playing a strength build and so I went basically the entire game without casting a spell. I’m sure I missed dungeons. I probably missed entire quest lines scattered here and there, and who knows what other little landmarks or interesting bits of content I just never noticed.

It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t play video games just how big this game is, and how– much as I predicted, about 90 hours ago– that kind of scope ends up actually being detrimental to the game. Because, okay, this was my first playthrough, and subsequent playthroughs won’t need to be nearly as long, because 1) I really won’t feel the need to do every single thing that I can possibly do on a second playthrough and 2) Since I know the general layout of the world and the basic path for exploration I won’t need to do as much fiddlefarting around as I did on the first playthrough, where there were big stretches where I didn’t really know what to do next so I just sort of wandered around until I stumbled over something. So I’m not in for another 120 hours, but even 50-60 for a second playthrough of something I’ve done before is just a big investment of time. That’s literally multiple days of playtime. Like, I loved it, it’s delicious, but if I eat any more I’m gonna throw up, and that’s not what I want.

I am uploading the final batch of episodes now; episodes 88 and 89 will go live today, so that’s 22 more episodes, meaning that the last episode will air on the 21st, since I don’t intend to bump up the release speed at all. I need to decide what I’m doing with the channel now; I’m closing in on a year that I’ve been doing this (I started in June of 2021) and I was really hoping that this series would goose my follower count a bit. I started the series with 116 followers on YouTube. I currently have, after 88 episodes of what at least to me seems like quality content about the hottest game on the market, have … 116 followers. I think a year of an hour of content every single day— I didn’t miss a single deadline once I started– is probably enough to determine whether I’m 1) going to blow up or 2) want to blow up on YouTube as a platform. I think the first answer is no; I had heard all kinds of stories about how follower counts pick up a lot once you get your 100th follower and your first video with 500 views; I’ve done both and they haven’t. The second … I’m tired, y’all. Video games and reading are my two big leisure activities and I effectively converted one of them into a job over the last year and I’m really not sure I want to keep doing it. I’m going to take those eleven days and play a game or two and not record at all, just to see if I feel differently about it, and we’ll see if I pick things back up in a couple of weeks (I could always just finish that year out and make it official) or if I decide to walk away from the channel for a while. I mean, I could always just record stuff when I want to, or cut down on the recorded episodes and do more livestreams or something. There are avenues in between “keep doing exactly what I’m doing” and “completely shut down.”

An essential Returnal update

Y’all. I am having fun with this one.

Returnal has one major problem and one major annoyance. The major problem is the saving thing. It is absolutely crazy that there’s no way to take a break in the middle of a run. Go ahead and wipe everything after dying just like you’ve been doing; hell, set the save functionality at the Reconstructors and charge me Ether for them if you want to, but there’s got to be a way I can quit and go have dinner like a human being or, hell, go to bed on time without risking a run.

The major annoyance? Maybe not that major, I dunno, but Trophies are borked to hell and back, and for people who are known to be completists like me, that’s aggravating. I’ve beaten one particular boss three times and the trophy for beating him hasn’t popped yet. I assume it’ll show eventually, maybe after the next patch, but right now it’s pissing me off.

(If you don’t understand a single sentence of the last two paragraphs, forgive me; I don’t have any friends or even online acquaintances who share my video game habit so my only real option is to write on the blog. I can’t even get anyone to bite on Twitter. You’d think at least a handful of the nearly eleven thousand people who follow me there would be a gamer, but you’d be wrong.)

Beyond that, though, this is one of the most fun shooters I’ve ever played, right up there with Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is probably my favorite shooter of all time. The controls are just beautifully executed on a technical level, and this game shares some DNA with the Dark Souls series, in that at least so far everything has felt fair. Like, don’t get me wrong, everything and everything and everything wants to and is able to kill your ass, and absolutely will kill your ass, but the word “bullshit” has escaped my mouth very few times during some very long runs, although there’s been a serious difficulty spike in the most recent area I’ve gotten to. The weapons are all great; everything that I’ve used except for the starter pistol has been my favorite weapon for at least a little while, and the pistol’s not bad, it’s just … y’know, a pistol, which isn’t remotely as fun as, say, the weapon called the Rotgland Lobber.

I love my Rottie. Love it.

The story is another thing that is holding it back from my usual BEST THING EVAR enthusiasm, but it’s possible that I’ll feel differently once I finish the game. There was a hell of a mid-game twist, but they’re leaning heavy into what-the-hell-is-going-on-here and it remains to be seen whether I’ll think the story is coherent once I’m done with the game. I will, of course, update again at that time.

I know you don’t have a PS5, and don’t buy one just to play this, but if you get one, you should probably pick Returnal up with it.

Quick #Review: VENOM (2018)

The boy has been campaigning to be allowed to watch Venom for a few days, so Bek and I previewed it last night to make sure it wasn’t going to destroy his tiny little brain or anything like that. The answer: no, it will not, although he might end up kind of bored with it, because the movie shows a surprising amount of patience with setting up its characters before Venom itself actually shows up on screen.

I don’t think this movie really need a full-blown review, but you should slot it pretty firmly with the second tier of non-Marvel superhero movies. It’s nowhere near as bad as some of the early attempts– say, the Elektras and the Daredevils— and probably on par with, say, the Birds of Prey movies, where you have a pretty good idea going in what you’re in for and if you’re okay with being in for that you’re going to have a decent time for the $9 it currently costs to buy this movie from Amazon Prime. The most jarring thing for me is that Venom himself has kind of a cheesy sense of humor, which I wasn’t really expecting, but expect that the alien symbiotic might come awfully close to making a couple of Dad jokes at various points during the film. There are definitely some story weaknesses, don’t get me wrong, and Riz Ahmed’s villain-whose-name-I-don’t-remember is damn near cartoonishly evil, but you could do worse than two hours of making fun of Tom Hardy’s accent and Michelle Williams’ wig.

Three and a half stars, watch during a long weekend.

#REVIEW: The PS4

The PS5 is in place, in the location in front of the new TV where it will likely remain for several years, and … damn, I knew the thing was going to be a behemoth, but it is a behemoth. I’d post a picture of mine instead of this one I grabbed from the Web, but there are cables everywhere and it looks like butt, and this gives you the idea. The thing is gorgeous, with this oddly architectural look that I’ve never seen from a console before, and while I actually haven’t spent a ton of time playing (because downloading all the shit that I need to download takes forever, and I had stuff to do today,) the first fifteen minutes or so of Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the first level of the Demon’s Souls remake are astonishing. I still need to figure out how to get my son’s save games moved over from the PS4, but that’s the only technical hitch I haven’t overcome so far.

I still can’t chase people for shit in the Spider-Man game; it’s nice to learn quickly that I’m not going to be any better at that.

But this post isn’t about the PS5, it’s about the PS4, and it’s specifically about me making this comment: I have been a gamer for a very long time– we had an Atari 2600– and I am fairly certain that the PS4 is my favorite console that I have ever owned. I bought mine in 2014, maybe seven or eight months after the thing launched (I’m writing this without bothering to look up the dates, so if they’re wrong, trust the “seven or eight months” part more) after a couple of generations of being an Xbox Guy (I never owned a PS1, had a PS2 but rarely played it, and bought a PS3 specifically to play The Last of Us, a decision I never regretted) and I never even glanced at the last Xbox generation. We have a Switch but it’s basically for the boy; other than the latest Mario I don’t think I’ve beaten a single game on it.

But the PS4? Jesus. God of War and Sekiro and the Dark Souls games and Spider-Man and Ghost of Tsushima and Bloodborne and Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Witcher 3 which was kind of a pain in the ass but aged well and Fallout 4 and Fallen Order and Hollow Knight and Nioh and Nioh 2, a game I just discovered I have sunk three hundred and fifteen hours into playing. Like, any one of these games could conceivably have sold me the console, and it had all of them.

To be clear, the message here is “If you’re a gamer, and you don’t own one of these yet somehow, you could buy one right now at a low cost and have years of unbelievable games to play before you worry about the next-gen shit.”

Just fuckin’ awesome.